‘Aunty Joy’ Turns to Solar

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At an age of “almost 90,” Joy Des Rosier of Whitehall, Montana is not one to leave problems for future generations. Her late husband, who passed away in 2003, always had interest in wind and solar power. A couple of years ago Aunty Joy, as she is affectionately called by friends and family, decided to do a bit of research into what it would take for her to transition to a renewable energy system. Joy expressed her motivation in a phone interview: “We do need a better energy system, and I realize a lot of Montanans depend on coal, but I didn’t want to have to.”

After looking into solar and wind power, she decided solar would be her best bet. Her house and garage were built facing south, ideal for solar panels. Joy reached out to three solar installers and eventually settled on Thirsty Lake Solar of Bozeman. Joy said Jeff Wongstrom, the owner of Thirsty Lake Solar, got right to work after they talked. She spoke very highly of Jeff and his outfit: “I really hope people consider Thirsty Lake, they were so prompt and so thorough.”

The solar array on Joy Des Rosier’s Whitehall home
Joy opted to have a 2.8 kilowatt solar system installed. However, she wanted to keep the possibility open of adding additional solar panels in the future, since she’s considering converting her gas water heater to on-demand electric. Thirsty Lake Solar accommodated her request by oversizing the inverter from 3,000 to 6,000 watts and positioning the solar panels in such a way that more could be added to the roof later. Aunty Joy is, in her own words, “tremendously pleased” with her new solar installation.

Quick Stats

  • Capacity (kW): 2.8
  • Owner: Joy Des Rosier
  • Location: Whitehall, Montana
  • Incentives: Federal and state tax credits
  • Installer: Thirsty Lake Solar
  • Equipment Used: (10) Solarworld 280SM+ modules, SMA Sunny Boy 6000TL inverter with Secure Power Supply, IronRidge racking, Sunny Portal monitoring system
  • Utility Service Territory: NorthWestern Energy